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USC routs Fresno State to win Las Vegas Bowl

Royal Purple Bowl Football AP

Cody Kessler threw for a career-high 344 yards and four touchdowns as No. 25 USC (10-4) defeated No. 20 Fresno State (11-2), 45-20, in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday.

It was USC’s first bowl win since 2009. The Trojans also grabbed their first 10-win season since 2011.

All of Kessler’s touchdowns came in the first half as the Trojans jumped out to a 35-6 lead. Nelson Agholor and Marqise Lee each scored twice, with Lee notching a season-high 118 receiving yards on seven catches.

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr came into the game leading the nation in total offense at 415 yards per game, but USC held him to just 217 passing yards on 29 of 54 passing. Carr did throw two touchdown passes to become the fourth player in NCAA history to top 5,000 yards and 50 touchdown passes in a season.

The Trojans dominated the stat sheet, holding the ball for over 41 minutes and piling up 499 yards to FSU’s 254.

It was a disappointing ending to a once-promising season for the Bulldogs. After starting out 10-0 to move into contention for a BCS bowl bid, FSU dropped two of its last three. Still, the 11-2 record was the best season by the Bulldogs since 1989.

As for USC, it was a fine ending to a tumultuous season. Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron and Clay Helton all coached the Trojans to wins and now Steve Sarkisian takes over as the new head man.

If Sarkisian is going to last longer than Kiffin, he better hope he’s not back in the Vegas bowl any time soon.

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9 Responses to “USC routs Fresno State to win Las Vegas Bowl”
  1. Professor Fate says: Dec 21, 2013 7:47 PM

    Certainly a better finish to the year for USC than I expected after that blowout to ASU.

    Clay Helton will be sticking around, which is good news, giving Sarkisian some continuity heading into next year. I’m hopeful Clancy Pendergast stays, too.

    Kessler certainly improved his play over the course of the year. Next spring’s fight for the starting spot with Wittek and Browne should be entertaining.

    Today I learned that, for all intents and purposes, the NCAA has eliminated the on-side kick. According to the explanation by the announcers, once you kick the ball into the ground the kicking team has to give the receiving team a chance to catch the ball. The standard approach to an on-side kick is to use the ground to get the ball up in the air so one of the players on the kicking team can out-jump the up-front players on the receiving team.

    Who pooches the ball into the air to accomplish that? Why change a relatively simple rule? Kick the ball, it goes 10 yards and then it becomes live. Anyone can recover it. Teams will have to be pretty desperate to regain possession after a score to bother attempting an on-side kick, which means it will only be attempted at the end of games.

    Apparently this rule was changed a couple of years ago. Now I know why I never see on-side kick attempts in college football any more.

  2. thefiesty1 says: Dec 21, 2013 7:54 PM

    Win one for coach O. Oh, sorry he’s not there any more.

  3. thekatman says: Dec 21, 2013 8:40 PM

    The on side kick rule that was used to take away the ball from USC during the game was based on the fact that the ball must bounce twice within the 10 yrds in order for the kicking team to have the oppty to possess it. The ball bounced only once.

    This new rule takes away a kicking team’s ability to short kick the ball and catch it, as what happened, if I remember correctly, when USC beat Oklahoma for the 2005 nattie.

  4. billmead1976 says: Dec 22, 2013 7:30 AM

    To think, if Fresno would’ve beat San Jose they might have been BCS.

  5. Professor Fate says: Dec 22, 2013 2:02 PM

    And then they could have been embarrassed in a much bigger game against a team better than USC.

    USC’s defense has been pretty good all year (if you disregard the drubbing ASU put on them) and has won them games despite the inconsistent offense. It certainly contained what was supposedly the nation’s most prolific quarterback.

    Fresno State in a BCS bowl against a more polished team would have been a major blowout.

  6. thekatman says: Dec 22, 2013 2:29 PM

    USC’s 47 schollie players and a handful of walk-ons beat the Mountain West Conference champ team who fielded 85 schollie players.

    PF… if you don’t think that was a challenge and a great win for SC, then what is?

    Most folks in the know would take USC’s 47 schollie players against anyone else’s 47, any day. They have proven it all year.

    The ASU loss was an anomaly, as was the UCLA game. Both games our team was outcoached and outplayed. The Wazzu and Notre Dame loss were due to poor offensive performance due to Kiffin’s inability to pick a QB back in the Spring.

  7. realfootballfan says: Dec 22, 2013 3:35 PM

    This is why competition level matters.

  8. Professor Fate says: Dec 23, 2013 12:42 AM

    As an SC fan since the days when OJ Simpson carried the rock I wasn’t trying to belittle the Trojans’ performance.

    I didn’t think they’d have much trouble handling Fresno State as long as the D-backs kept Carr in check. But the simple fact is that those scholarship reductions have been the Trojans’ Achilles heel. Losing big to ASU and coming up just short against ND are proof of that. UCLA is simply slightly better than USC this year.

    I’d say the upset of Stanford was huge, certainly the best win of the season, but the inconsistent offense (along with the defense collapsing against ASU) is why SC ended up in Las Vegas in the first place.

    The losses under Kiffin were strictly because of Kiffin. His play calling was unimaginative and entirely predictable. Once Orgeron focused on Kessler as his starting QB there was consistent improvement at that position for the rest of the year. Both Orgeron and Helton prepared the team for games much better than Kiffin did.

    Thus, in my opinion, a true BCS team would have likely made Fresno State look even worse than they did against SC. That isn’t taking anything away from the men of Troy playing well despite a short bench, that’s just acknowledging that there are better teams out there going to BCS bowl games. Games in which Fresno State obviously wouldn’t have been competitive.

  9. thekatman says: Dec 23, 2013 9:25 PM

    I think USC played Fresno Sate as good or better than most BCS teams. You under estimate these kids Prof.

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